THE DEATHS of two young friends from Ballindaggin in a horrific road accident near their home village were recalled in inquests held at the Presentation Centre in Enniscorthy last week.
Robert Byrne (18) of Lynburn in Ballindaggin and Kevin Rafter from Shroughmore died after a single vehicle collision in Coolacarney in the early hours of the May Bank Holiday Monday last year. Their inquests were held separately when Doctor Sean Nixon convened his coroner's court on Thursday.
Evidence was heard first in the case of Francis Robert Byrne. Evidence was provided by Garda Darin Sane, who told how he came to the scene in Coolacarney to find a crashed Peugeot 306 van. The two fatally injured occupants had been thrown from the vehicle. Both were alive but seriously injured. Ambulance personnel cared for the casualties as best they could at the scene before removing them but the pair were later pronounced dead at Wexford General Hospital.
The coroner took evidence from another young man, Jack Tobin, whose statement recalled how he was out with friends in Ballindaggin on the night prior to the accident. The group took a taxi bus in to Enniscorthy, where they spent several hours at Benedicts night club.
They also got a bus back to Ballindaggin. Mr Tobin had intended to drive his own car home, but it would not start, so Robert Byrne offered him a lift. Kevin Rafter joined them in the car for the trip to the Tobin house, where the witness disembarked at what he estimated was some time after 3.30 a.m.
The inquest heard that the accident which claimed the two young lives then occurred as the driver and his remaining passenger were journeying back towards Ballindaggin.
The autopsy report compiled on Robert Byrne showed that he suffered extensive abdominal and chest injuries in the crash. The coroner called it 'a major tragedy'.
The evidence of Garda Sane and of Jack Tobin was repeated when Doctor Nixon and the jury turned their attention to the death of 17-year-old Kevin Rafter. The deceased's father was present to hear too the testimony of Paul Butler, the person who first came upon the scene.
The witness, a resident of St. Colman's Park, told how he is an early riser and, on the morning in question, he decided drive to Enniscorthy. On his way, he discovered the two young men on the roadway. He recognised the Peugeot van straight away, and raised the alarm.
Details outlined of a post mortem examination on Kevin Rafter again told of many and serious injuries. The report also showed there was no trace of alcohol or any other substance in his system.
The jury returned verdicts of accidental death. Dr. Nixon and Garda Superintendent Liam Carolan offered condolences to the families.